Catholic church in San Francisco to phase out altar girls

Altar girls enter the church during the opening procession of a mass in Hammond, La., Tuesday, July 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

San Francisco's Roman Catholic archbishop is upholding a ban on altar girls imposed by a local pastor.

The ban applies to Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco's Richmond District.

For centuries, boys have assisted priests during masses and other ceremonies.

About 20 years ago, the Vatican allowed girls to serve in that role.

Star of the Sea Church Rev. Joseph Illo believes altar service is a path to the all-male bastion of the priesthood.

Many parents at the parish's school oppose Illo's altar girl ban.
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